• Childhood and Adolescence
Jalal Malaksha was born on March 19, 1952 in the village of Malakshan near Sanandaj, Kurdistan. His father was Ahmad Rahimi Malakshan and his mother was Amena Gaweli Kelana. He was the first child in a family of seven siblings.
As a child, before going to school, under the influence of one of his uncles, Abdulraza, he learned to read and write in Kurdish. “I was five years old when my uncle encouraged and even forced me to memorize the poetry of classical poets such as Nali, Mahwi, and others,” he once said.
Jalal was eight when his father was employed in the Sanandaj Agricultural Department and they moved from the village to Sanandaj. Since at time he was over seven years old, he was hardly admitted into primary school. Due to the conditions in Iran and the ban on education in the mother tongue, like other Kurdish children, he was forced to study in Persian. He completed his primary education in Sheikh Mohajer, Saadi, Chaharom-e Aban and Saadi No. 2 primary schools, and completed his middle and high school education in Shahpour, Bouali, Razi, Ghazali and Hedayat schools and graduated in Persian language and literature.
• Political activities
At an early age, Malaksha became involved in politics. He was able to gain a special place in Persian newspapers and periodicals by writing poetry and stories in a short period of time. He was interrogated and imprisoned several times by SAVAK (Iranian intelligence service) for his writings and thoughts. The prison became a university for him, where he met people from small and large political parties of that period and became familiar with many Kurdistani and Iranian left and political movements. For example, in Sanandaj Central Prison, he met Behrouz Haghi Manieh, a prominent member of the People’s Fadaiyan from Tabriz. Haghi Mani taught the basics of historical dialectical materialism to prisoners for two years in prison, and Malaksha benefited greatly from his lessons, calling him a very capable teacher.
Before the Iranian popular revolution, Malaksha became a member of the party of Fadaei Guerrilla Organization in Kurdistan and was active there until the fall of the monarchy regime in Iran. He later joined the Komala party and spent nearly 12 years in prison for his political activities in both the monarchy and the Islamic Republic regimes.
Malaksha’s political thought and activities are reflected in most of his works. “People cannot escape politics and political activity. This is true specially for authors, but art should not be imprisoned within a political party. Being accountable to a party deprives a person of the independence of thought,” he later said in an interview after leaving the party.
Malaksha became politically active as a young man and was imprisoned several times for his writings and political activities. He was first interrogated and tortured by SAVAK in 1969 in the monarchy regime, when he was only 17 years old. In 1972, he was sentenced to four years in prison but was released after serving two years. He was sentenced to prison again in 1976, but he did not bow to these unjust punishments. While in prison, he started writing stories for the first time and smuggled them out to Persian magazines. With these stories, he showed another side of his literary talent. The stories that he sent out of prison were so effective and well-regarded that after his release he was already well-known, and this introduced him to many literary and political circles of that period.
In 1978, in the midst of the popular uprising against the monarchy regime, Malaksha was once again imprisoned. But after a few months he was released as the regime, feeling the heat of the uprising, was forced to release more political prisoners. Even after the fall of the monarchy regime, Malaksha’s pen was not silenced in the face of the continued oppression of the new ruling regime, and he continued his activities with a sense of responsibility for the pain of his people.
After the revolution and during the rule of the Islamic Republic, Malaksha was one of the first Kurdish activists to be arrested and imprisoned. Because of his activities, all members of his family and even close relatives were pressured and imprisoned. The regime also tried to expel his wife, Bahiya, a teacher, several times, and he was exiled to other cities several times.
Malaksha was arrested again in 1983 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and exile and to 15 years of suspended sentence. At the time of his conviction, he was transferred from one prisoner to another every few months, and many of his writings were lost in this process. He entrusted some of his writings to friends and acquaintances and sent them out of prison, but unfortunately very few of them reached him again, and some fell into the hands of prison guards who set several of his poetry books on fire in front of his eyes. After nearly four years of his sentence, he was pardoned and released. Later, during his time in Sirwa, he was occasionally arrested and imprisoned for various reasons.
The experience of imprisonment is clearly reflected in many of his poems, and most of his poems are the product of the dungeons and prisons of both the Iranian monarchy and the Islamic Republic regimes. Jalal spent a total of more than twelve years in prison in both regimes for his beliefs in pursuing lofty human aspirations; SAVAK prisons, Sanandaj Intelligence Prison, Sanandaj Central Prison, Urmia Central Prison, Abadan Municipality Prison, and Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj were only some his torture centers.
• Iranian Writers Association
Malaksha’s experience in writing began at an early age; He was able to appear in modern Persian poetry in a short time and his poems and stories were published in most of the popular magazines and newspapers of that time. Even when he was imprisoned for his activities, he continued to write and send his poems, stories, and writings out of prison.
In 1977, although Malaksha did not have a book published yet, and while one of the main conditions for membership in the association was having at least two published books, he was accepted as a member of the Writers’ Association of Iran, which showed the high literary level of his works and ability to write in Persian. At that time, the other Kurdish members of the Writers’ Association of Iran were Ali Ashraf Darwishian and Omar Faroqi.
Membership in the Writers’ Association of Iran provided Malaksha with a favorable opportunity to become closer to the great writers and poets of that period. Among the most famous members of the association at that time, Mehdi Akhavan Sales, Ahmad Shamloo, Houshang Golshiri, Jalal Al-Ahmad, and Mahmoud Etemadzadeh can be named.
• Social and literary relations
Social and literary relations
At the age of twenty-four, Jalal Malaksha married Bahiya Ajdarnejad, the daughter of a well-known family in Urmia. During their life together, they had three sons, Kawa, Shahu and Nima.
• Living in secret
Due to his activities, both in the monarchy and in the Islamic Republic regimes, Malaksha was repeatedly forced to live secretly. In each of the cities of Tehran, Urmia, Abadan, Khorramshahr, Shiraz, Isfahan, Saqez, Mahabad, Bukan and even Sanandaj, he lived secretly for some time; But despite all the problems and restrictions, he was not willing to go into exile.
At the beginning of his collaboration with Sirwa Magazine, the pressures of the state security on Malaksha eased for a while, but as he went on, the mounting pressures resulted in his occasional detentions and eventually was forced to leave Sirwa. After learning of the attempts to arrest him and impose on him long-term prison sentences, he could not bear it any longer and, in his own words, “I could no longer tolerate handcuffs and imprisonment and went to the Kurdistan Region through smuggling routes.” Sulaimaniyah and Erbil welcomed him with open arms. He also lived in Baghdad for a short while.
• The last years of life
The last years of Malaksha’s life were largely spent in solitude. In Iran, he was not allowed to engage in literary activity and could not publish his books under the severe censorship. He was not even allowed to participate in literary circles and gatherings.
In 1995, the Fajr Art Center of Sanandaj decided to hold a ceremony in recognition of his years of literary activities; But minutes before the start of the ceremony, the Sanandaj Intelligence Office blocked the ceremony and closed the venue, dispersing the participants.
The Kurdistan Regional Government repeatedly invited him to move there, but he could not stay away from his hometown Sanandaj. He also had to endure illness, making it difficult for him to get around. However, he did not stop writing until his last breath, leaving behind many works some of which have not yet been published.
• Death and after death
On 31 October 2020 at 6:15 pm, Jalal Malaksha passed away due to cardiac arrest at his father’s house in Tapaghadpal neighborhood of Sanandaj. On 1 November 2020, under severe security conditions and despite many restrictions, his body was carried on the shoulders of hundreds of his fellow citizens and admirers chanting patriotic slogans and the national anthem of Kurdistan, and his body was buried in his native village.
Many prominent figures in Kurdistan, such as the head of the Kurdistan Region, Nichirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani, and all the leaders and officials of political parties sent messages of condolence and sympathy to Malaksha’s family and the people of Kurdistan. In addition to ceremonies held in Sanandaj and the village of Malakshan, Kurds living in most cities in Kurdistan, Europe and the United States held memorial events to bid farewell to the great poet.
After Malaksha’s death, several members of his family and relatives were persecuted and interrogated for several months, which proves that, even after his death, his pen is a thorn in the side of Kurdistan’s ill-wishers.
On the occasion of the fortieth day of Malaksha’s death, as a recognition of his lifetime devotion to Kurdish literature, during a glorious ceremony in the cities of Sulaymaniyah and Erbil, a collection of his works was unveiled under the title Piredar (the old tree), named after one of his famous poems.